Have you ever felt like you were in a tug of war game with life…and you were losing? Like everything and everyone was against you?
You are not alone in your struggle; Jacob expressed that exact feeling in the middle of an extreme situation. His favorite son had been killed (he believed), there was a terrible famine, now another son was lost—this time to prison in Egypt. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was that for all he could see, he was about to lose another son.
As life conspires against Jacob and his troubles mount, he cries out to his sons, “Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me” (Genesis 42:36—emphasis mine).
Sometimes I’ve been able to relate to (and even speak for myself) Jacob’s words. Perhaps you can, too. Sometimes it just seems that everything possible is against us.
But hindsight is 20/20, so let’s take advantage of clear vision and thinking to consider Jacob’s words compared with his situation.
What were these things that were against him? He mentioned three specifics, and all three of them were a little different than he perceived in his moment of desperation:
- “Joseph is not.” Sometimes what we think we know, we don’t really know. What Jacob did know was that his sons brought him Joseph’s coat soaked with blood. He inferred the rest. What Jacob did not know was that Joseph was second in command in Egypt, and God was using him to eventually save his entire family from starvation. Misinterpreting even obvious facts can lead to discouragement. We feel that something is against us when in reality, that “fact” never even happened.
- “Simeon is not.” Well, let’s not give up on a situation that still has hope! Simeon was in prison in Egypt. The situation looked hopeless, but Simeon was still alive. Again, God was using this situation for good. He was using it to work whatever repentance there was to be had in the hearts of Jacob’s sons. We, too, must be careful about declaring a hopeless end. What we think is an end is really often a whole new beginning in God’s plan.
- “And ye will take Benjamin away.” Here is an example of borrowing tomorrow’s assumed trouble. To be sure, Jacob did have reason to fear sending Benjamin with these men, but what actually happened did not have the consequences he had feared. This circumstance was used by God to reunite Jacob with Joseph and also with Simeon. We are quite wrong to feel that circumstances of the future are against us, for we can always trust the future with our Heavenly Father.
Whether we are interpreting the past (“Jacob is not”), understanding the present (“Simeon is not”), or concerned for the future (“ye will take Benjamin away”), we are unwise to follow Jacob’s conclusion of “all these things are against me.
In fact, when considering “all these things,” we would be better off quoting Romans 8:31: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” No circumstance or person can prevail against me when God Almighty is for me.
Can we really say “All these things are against me”? No, for God will use these very things to work a great victory. He did this for Jacob, and He can do it for you!